No one wants to think about their own demise and think about drafting wills and trusts in Arizona. Getting your estate in order, including making a will, never seems to be a priority. But because none of us is guaranteed a tomorrow, we really should think about making it a little easier for our loved ones to carry on by organizing our estate. What happens if people die without Arizona wills and trusts?

If you die without an estate plan, it is called dying intestate. This means the state will distribute your property in a way in which average people, had that they had wills and trusts in Arizona, would likely have done so. This can, however, be totally different from what you had intended, and even if friends and family are aware of your intentions, without a will, the state decides and there are not any exceptions.

There are specific laws concerning the distribution of property should individuals die without wills and trusts in Arizona, using the 1990 Uniform Probate Code as a basis for its reasoning. This code states that close relatives will receive your property as opposed to distant relatives. The order of the distribution to relations goes in the following order:

  1. Surviving spouse
  2. Children and/or grandchildren (including adopted children)
  3. Relatives of your parents (brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews)
  4. Grandparents
  5. Descendants of grandparents.

If none of the listed survivors are deemed responsible to receive the property, the property, also known legally as “escheats” reverts to the state.

If you are married, under the Uniform Probate Code, your surviving spouse is given the entire estate (minus expenses and your tax responsibilities), or at least most of it. In some states, if this is not your first marriage, the existing spouse can inherit everything. In other states, the spouse only gets one-third to one-half of the estate with the balance going to any surviving parents.

If there are no surviving parents, the portion that would have gone to the parents now is split between your siblings. The brother you haven’t seen in decades? He gets a share of your estate. If you have a large estate, the code has specific conditions for amounts larger than $100,000. In addition, individual states have their own laws concerning dying without a will.

Do not think that your children or spouse will not argue over who gets what. For example, let’s say you promised your mother’s rings to your only daughter and the value of the rings are $20,000. Because it was only a verbal promise, and your siblings or your other children were not present when you made that promise, there may be arguments. Should your daughter’s inheritance be reduced by the value of the rings?

This can all be avoided with the creation of a will. You can leave detailed instructions as to the distribution or sale of your belongings and potentially avoid unnecessary disputes. It is to avoid questions and situations like these that people should draw up wills and trusts in Arizona.

Find Out More About Wills and Trusts Arizona Courts Recognize

Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys can guide you through the steps to create a will that best conveys your wishes for your property when you are gone. Our estate planning attorneys are experienced in creating wills and trusts in Arizona to accommodate your personal needs. Call our Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys at (480)947-4339.